01 November 2018

Delivering Exceptional Service

"From now on the essence of this hotel will be speed.  If a customer asks you for a three-minute egg, give it to them in two minutes.  If they ask you for a two-minute egg give it to them in one minute.  If they ask you for a one-minute egg, give them the chicken."

--Groucho Marx, "A Night in Casablanca"


Recently Uber Technologies, Inc. let it be known that within three years the company intends to expand its services to include a fleet of food-delivery drones called, UberEats.  

Instead of having your Domino's Deluxe Pizza brought to the house or apartment by a friendly delivery person, that box, wafting with the smell of your favorite toppings, would sail through the air landing at your doorstep, hot and ready to eat.

While UberEats already has a ground delivery service, the announced timeline calls for a drone service to be in place by 2021 according to the original Uber posting on its website. 

Several big tech companies, Amazon and Uber among them, are keeping a George Jetson-future in front of hungry investors, and media.  On the ground over $3.5 billion has been invested in food and grocery delivery services in 2018.  Instacart, Inc., Postmates, Inc., and DoorDash, who delivers Wendy's hamburgers and other menu items, are vying for ways to carve out positions in this emerging market.

In the meantime  

This past summer I made a business trip from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Minneapolis, by way of Detroit, that somewhat resembles an obstacle course.  During each segment I became increasingly dependent on others to help get me to my destination safely and on time by delivering exceptional service:

Amtrak Station in Kalamazoo.  

When my train was posted late, Tod, the Amtrak station manager, offered to find a ground transportation service at Dearborn Station, about 30 minutes from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.  There's nothing unusual about a late Amtrak train.  That happens more than it should.  

What was different on that Thursday in June was Tod's effort to make sure we didn't miss our flight in Detroit.

Amtrak Station in Dearborn.

Eddie, our polite and knowledgeable driver, navigated heavy congestion and construction between the train station and airport.  All for a reasonable fee.       

Delta in Terminal A.

As it turns out my dash to the gate was unnecessary.  Delta 23 was running a little behind and boarding had yet to begin.  Then Delta announced that the scanning system for reading boarding passes was down.  All 167 passengers on this oversold flight would have to be boarded manually through the backup system.  

Susan, the gate agent, called for boarding and began a tedious process of getting passengers onto the Boeing 737-900 plane.  I asked how she felt about being alone at Gate 70 in Terminal A with a broken system. Her response:  "You do what you have to do."  

Within a reasonable amount of time, everyone was boarded and Delta 23 nonstop to Minneapolis was safely on its way.  

Hertz at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.

I returned to Kalamazoo by renting a Hertz car at Detroit Metro Airport and driving two hours west on Interstate 94 to the Portage Road exit. In my haste to fill out the rental agreement (gas, mileage, time) and get home, I left my mobile phone in the front seat.  

Fortunately, when associate manager, Michael, did the vehicle inspection, he found the phone and held it for me.   

With appreciation

I am grateful to Tod, Eddie, Susan, and Michael for their spirit and quality service.  Each acted as much out of who they are as what they may have been trained to do.  

What happens next?

Who knows what will unfold when it comes to delivering products and services through a variety of methods, including by air.  With technology and artificial intelligence advancing at rapid speeds the sky may indeed be the limit.  

It's important to find ways for your business to stand out among the competition.  One path to success is providing exceptional face-to-face customer service.  When necessary, give them the chicken.  

Delivering what's promised on a daily basis is not easy to do--but that's the goal.  

For now, your Domino's Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza will still be arriving by car, truck, or SUV--delivered by a mortal being.  When The Wall Street Journal contacted Uber about a flying drones program the company removed that posting from its website.  

Apparently, the air version of UberEats has been temporarily grounded.      



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